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Haven't posted this anywhere 'cause I'm shy as hell. Maybe one day.

Title: Wayfare
Author: Novembersmith
Fandom/pairing: Brokeback Mountain, Jack/Ennis
Rating: PG-13?
Word count: 615
Summary: Ennis watches the road.
Disclaimer: Annie Proulx created these characters. I'm just playing with them.
Note: This is my first Brokeback fic. I welcome any and all constructive criticism. In fact, I welcome any comment anyone sees fit to make.

Ennis had always been the one that left the mountains first. He kept his eyes on the lowlands and left the campfire and bedrolls behind, folded the memories down like tent walls and stowed them away. Went back down to the city and waited patient as he could. Didn't do no good to poke at the sore spots, so he let them lie and kept his face to the horizon.

But once, he turned the truck around, drove back. Too long ago now to remember why, but he remembers the colors of it. It was a late September afternoon in the Tetons, the world all a flame with dying leaves and blue windy skies. Air drenched in whiskey-colored light and smelling like hay and cold water, and Jack's face an open wound when he rolled back into camp.

"Truck won't start," he'd said, accepting Ennis' return like a postcard, dragging smoke in and out of his lungs. "Figured I'd be walking to town."

It was one of them new trucks, latest in a line of changes to go with Jack’s smooth Texas accent and slick Texas mustache. The hood opened smoothly, and Ennis'd leaned underneath to the gleaming engine that left his fingers black and greasy. All the while Jack kept up a low stream of curses, curses for mechanics and auto industries, foreign competition and gas prices, and even though he didn't mention Ennis' name Ennis heard it anyway.

Ennis remembered that first truck, Jack's daddy's old black Ford, paint worn through to rust and flaking off like fish scales. Jack had watched him bury his nose in its oily entrails and coax it to combustion in silence, eyes wide and face bruised.

That truck had smelled like fire and cigarettes and metal and beneath it all the sweet musty breath of hay. This truck smelled plastic.

By the time Ennis had the engine of this one purring, Jack had petered off into silence, watching Ennis with shadowed eyes.

"There," he'd said, shuttin the hood a mite too hard and catching his thumb. Hurt quick and faded fast, tasted like oil and copper. "Take better care a this one, Jack. She ain't meant for rough roads like this'n."

And Jack had started to swell up, mad as a cottonmouth snake, then just deflated, looking for a moment just like that boy coming off the mountains, all those years ago, and Ennis never figured on it being harder to leave the second time around.

Leaving Jack, Ennis figured, felt like being caught in barbed wire, laced around him like murderous steel vines. Don't look at it and it don't hurt so bad, he'd always thought. Move quick and don't look at it and keep on walking. He'd never looked at Jack's face when he left, before, always kept his eyes on the road.

This time, under Jack's bruised eyes, he had reached out a hand and kissed Jack in the autumn twilight, covered in grease, kissed him soft and careful like one wrong move could shatter them both to ash and dirt and aspen leaves.

Jack didn't punch him, just breathed a little hard and jerked away, slammed the truck door and put his head down on the steering wheel. And Ennis didn't bleed but coming down the mountains, Jack's headlights behind him, it got harder and harder to ignore each the sting of each mile.

Ennis drove back to Signal and Jack drove fourteen, fifteen hours of highway Ennis ain't never seen down to Childress, Texas.

Seems now Jack had always been driving, and Ennis had always accepted that black cowboy hat and lopsided smile would show up eventually. Now Jack didn't show up no more, except in dreams, except in crowds and in the corner of his eye, and Ennis forgot sometimes Jack wasn't still out there. Jack Twist forever in his mind driving, driving the length of the flat country to the edge of the mountains, where Ennis waited.

Ennis knows he's looking the wrong way down a one-way street, for a black Ford truck that died long ago, but he can't help but watch the road anyway.


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October 2017

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